Bullying and Harassment: Cox Report

Part of Bill Presented – in the House of Commons at 5:59 pm on 5th November 2018.

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Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons 5:59 pm, 5th November 2018

I would certainly be very happy to discuss how the hon. Gentleman and colleagues can feed into the review. As he will be aware, the ICGS steering group is made up of Members of this House and of the other place, as well as trade union members and members of staff of MPs and peers. Nevertheless, it will be for a wide variety of stakeholders to feed into that process, and I would be delighted to discuss that with him.

Turning now to Dame Laura’s report, its findings are shocking. As I said on 16 October, it was important that the House leadership responded promptly and comprehensively. The House of Commons Commission has met twice since then and has agreed in full Dame Laura’s three key recommendations. The commission has further directed the Commons Executive Board to produce a speedy action plan in consultation with a wide range of stakeholders, which will be taken forward with the help and support of the external members of the Commission.

I would now like to turn to each of Dame Laura’s key recommendations. First, she recommends that the Valuing Others and Respect policies, which were available to House staff, are discarded. House staff have been able to access the ICGS since it began in July, so the House of Commons Commission has agreed that the pre-existing policies should be discarded.

Secondly, Dame Laura recommends that the new ICGS is amended to ensure that those House employees with complaints involving historical allegations can access the new scheme. I think it is important to clarify that House staff already do have the same rights of access to the ICGS as everyone else here. The steering group agreed that historical allegations would be accepted by the new scheme. However, legal advice taken advised that allegations referring to events that predate the 2017 Parliament could be considered only under any sanctions available at the time of the offence. Dame Laura’s report suggests that the House of Commons Commission look at this again. It has agreed to do so, and that will be taken forward.